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Saturday, April 30, 2011

GSP says "don't blink"

So, anything going on in Toronto tonight?  You may have noticed the wall to wall coverage of UFC129 this week on SportsNet, and impressive it has been in quality and quantity.  55,000 will be in attendance, and more if the word of a couple hundred extra tickets coming open after set-up is true, and it will be a scene at the very least.  The card itself is stacked - Dana White doesn't make garbage match-ups after all - and I'm saying GSP dominates Jake Shields in the main event for a decision, with Jose Aldo making quick work of Mark Hominick, and Lyoto Machida sending Randy Couture into retirement with a loss.  Rest of the card here.  GSP concluded yesterday's weigh in by grabbing the mic and telling the 9,000+ that packed Ricoh Coliseum "don't blink".  Uncharacteristic smack talk for the classy champion, I like it.

The San Jose Sharks opened their Western Conference semi with a 2-1 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings.  The Tampa Bay Bolts ripped one in Washington to take a 1-0 series lead with a 4-2 win over the top seeded Caps.  It would not shock me if the Bolts took that series.

Tottenham and Chelsea will play a cross-town match today in the EPL, with Spurs badly needing a win to grab a Champions League slot for next year, while Chelsea are hoping to narrow the gap on leading Manchester United, who have a juicy game with Arsenal set for tomorrow.  Four more weeks of EPL action remains for the season, so points are crucial at the top.

Nice work by Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe.  The 0.24 associated with him after Thursday night isn't his ERA, but his blood alcohol content after the police nailed him racing his 2011 Porche Panamara.

And as quick as the NFL lockout was declared off by the courts, it is now back on.  Wake me when it is over.

Short one today, enjoy the weather.  Nice move putting a gem of a playoff matchup in Boston at Philly on a spring afternoon, NHL!

Not sure if this guy is selling, or if this was indeed a neck breaking move in yet another backyard wrestling mishap.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A royal who gives a fuck

If there's one game you figured the Nashville Preds could steal in Vancouver, it had to be last night's series opener with the Canucks just coming off an overtime win in Game 7 two nights prior over Chicago.  But the Preds let the opportunity slide and were downed 1-nil.

Actually followed a bit of the NFL Draft last night with the Yankees pounding the White Sox last night.  The Minnesota Vikings pick of QB Christian Ponder was widely panned, the only one rated an "F" on last night.  But doesn't that make it an "A"?  After all, who knows bad picks - and pics - better than the Vikes after a couple years with Brett Favre at QB?  The one eye popper for me - in the right way - was seeing Nick Fairley land in Detroit.  They've got two beasts on the D-Line now in him and Ndamokong SuhDetroit is on their way, people.

Funniest draft note: cornerback Prince Amukamara, drafted by the New York Giants, has five siblings.  Their names: Princess, Promise, Peace, Precious, & Passionate.  No word on if they have a dog named "Pathetic".

The bigger news in the NFL is after a judges ruling in Minnesota, the NFL is quasi-back in business today, with players allowed to work out at team facilities.  I said way back there would be a full season and this has it looking more and more likely.

Count Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas among those that aren't fans of Montreal Canadien PK Subban, who he accused of diving to try to draw penalties in their Game 7 on Wednesday.  I talked to one hardcore hockey fan during the game - TS - and he pointed out it looked like the Habs were repeatedly putting themselves in vulnerable spots to try to draw penalties, turning into the boards when a hit was coming and such. As for Subban, count me a fan.  I'm a fan of guys with talent and personality, and far too often, sports are lacking in the latter.

If you thought the U.K. was a bit whacky over all this Royal Wedding B.S., you can add their love of soccer as being over the top when you get word that Manchester United's star Wayne Rooney had his phone hacked by News of the World so they could listen to his voice messages.

Worth reviewing is Tom Verducci's list of pitchers at risk of reduced performance and injury if they were under 25 and increased their innings load in 2010 over the year prior by 30 or more innings.  Some names to note so far: Phil Hughes, Brett Cecil, Mat Latos, and Madison Bumgarner all hurt or struggling.  Pretty good work, Verducci.

My prediction is that in honour of his mother, Will finishes "in the tunnel" tonight.  Yes, that's my original material.  Use it as you wish today and tonight.

You know Epic Meal Time has hit it big when it is now being spoofed...

More backyard wrestling.  The hits never stop coming.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Messi the Magnificent

A solid advertisement it was not, and proof that you can have too much of a good thing it was yesterday as Barcelona and Real Madrid played an ugly game that saw more bitching to refs and players looking to hook the ref than it did stellar play.  "El Classico" turned into "Smell Classico" for wide stretches, and it was disappointing to see how many Barca players in particular went easily (or phantomly, if that's a word) to ground.  Disappointing.  But, it was saved by one Lionel Messi, who scored one nice goal, and one absolutely ridiculous one, to give Barca the 2-0 lead and all but book their spot in the Champions League Final on May 28th at Wembley Stadium in London, England, likely against Manchester UnitedKristian Jack at The Score wraps the game here, with a great three star selection.  Video of Messi's second goal gets the "too good to be at the bottom of the blog" treatment.  Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was one of three to be ejected in the proceedings - there could have been a few more - and went legend post-game with this rant in which he implies there is some fix to get Barcelona throughJack asks why Mourinho is using Ronaldo as a forward as it largely wastes him.  Great question.  Got into a conversation yesterday on Barcelona ace Lionel Messi and whether he's the best player in soccer today.  My response: that isn't the question, the question is whether he's the best ever.  And really, give the guy another Champions League title or two and maybe a World Cup if all breaks well and there is nothing ridiculous in putting him up there with Diego Maradona and Pele as the all-timers, perhaps Zidane as well, and that's only if you believe you need that kind of resume of titles to be in the mix.

A pair of Game 7's last night in the NHL saw the Pittsburgh Penguins go down 1-0 at home to Tampa Bay.  Hard to not be impressed at the stones the Pens have shown as there aren't too many teams where you can take off their top two offensive players - and one happens to be the best player in the world - and they still manage to soldier on as an above average team.  They'll be back, provided Sid is. The Bolts will now face Washington next round in what should be a very interesting matchup.  The other Eastern Conference series saw the Boston Bruins pull out a 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens which of course sent most non-Hab fans into celebration mode.  Nice work on Scott Gomez going -3 on the night for the losers.  Habs have some nice pieces in Carey Price and PK Subban going forward.  The Bruins will face Philly in what should be a brutal series on the players involved.  Said one SW, reader here: "it is a great night when the Habs go out, and the Red Sox go into last place". 

The Western Conference starts its next round tonight with Nashville in Vancouver.  I'm taking Vancouver in that series in six.  San Jose and Detroit start tomorrow, I've got the Wings winning in six.  Going to say Washington in seven and Philly in five in the East.  Who ya got?

Was Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell around when John Rocker was spewing his hate?  McDowell went off on fans in San Francisco with a bunch of homophobic blasts and asked one what his teeth were worth while pointing a bat to him.  Classy.

Tweets Sportspickle: "a hockey crowd doing a white out is kind of redundant."

Might the NFL lockout be over?  The appeal filed by owners seems to have been overturned so could be a very interesting day, including, as Bukakke corrected me, the Draft tonight.

Check out this tornado, estimated at 1.6km wide, dancing past the home of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Gotta hit the road for work, so a brief one today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Holy freaking sports today!

The second Champions League semi-final goes today with Barcelona at Real Madrid, their third match-up in the last 12 days.  Those two represent the highest paid teams in sports, which you can see at right based on their average annual pay.  What is shocking to me is the presence of the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets on that list.  Also shocking is that the NBA is the highest paid league in sports, though the small roster size helps that.  Suspect NBA Commissioner David Stern is going to do something about that in the next CBA.  Oh, as for the Champions League bit, I'm thinking a draw today, and have a strange feeling that Real Madrid just might get through to the final.  Hope you were playing along with yesterday's selections in soccer and hockey, which went 4-0.

Yesterday's Champions League semi saw Manchester United absolutely dominate Schalke 04, who played like they were on the road looking to draw.  It was only 2-0, but could have been 6 or 7 if not for some stellar goalkeeping from Manuel Neuer. United had 67% possession of the ball, and have all but assured they're in the final on May 23rd.

I found myself watching last night's fantastic Game 7 in Vancouver rooting for Chicago.  Now, I don't go for this "support the Canadian team" thing at the best of times when it comes to pro sports, mostly because so often the other team has as many or more Canadians on the squad, but I think there's something about that Canuck team I just don't like.  Maybe it is the whining GM Paul Gillis?  At any rate, after their 2-1 overtime win, the Canucks celebrated like they won the Stanley Cup, forgetting (1) it was only the first round and (2) they were the #1 seed facing a #8 and (3) they almost choked away a 3-0 series lead.  And then, a couple Canucks gave me solid reminders of why I don't like that team.  First up, goalie Roberto Luongo who said "this one might be better than the Olympics."  Really?  A first round win tops a gold freaking medal for your country?  The one thing it is fair to say is he contributed as much to both wins, which is to say, not much at all.  If he were a wrestler or boxer, his handle would be "Coattail Rider".  And then Ryan Kessler, dynamite player that he is, said post game "the guys wanted to win this one as much as I did."  That was amid at least a half dozen "I" references.  Douche chill.  The Canucks take on the Nashville Preds, starting tomorrow night. 

Maybe the Toronto Blue Jays ought to shoot some ads that don't have players swinging on turf, or with a wall behind them when doing so?  Who the hell thought that was a good idea?  One thing accurate: no fans in the stadium.  Way to sell the sizzle, whoever came up with this ad campaign.

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn't exactly roll out the red carpet when the club signed closer set-up man Rafael Soriano, declaring it wasn't his idea. So far, Cashman's looking wise there. Soriano has already given up 9 earned runs - he gave up 12 all last year - and has played a big roll in three of the Yanks 8 losses. I'm sure the passive Yankee crowds haven't noticed yet.

So much for the idea that the Buffalo Sabres big goaltending edge would carry them in Game 7. The Sabres were pounded 5-2 in Philadelphia last night. The second seeded Flyers and top seeded Washington won't know who they're facing next round until tonight's pair of Game 7's are completed, the first that we'll mention is Pittsburgh hosting Tampa Bay.  Going to break from form here and suggest the roadie wins Game 7

The Montreal Canadiens forced a game 7 tonight after a 2-1 win over Boston, aided by a pretty undisciplined Bruins squad, led by Milan Lucic going bonehead with a nasty hit on Jaroslav "Sissy" Spacek that saw him ejected, though he will play tonight.  They'll turn around and play tonight in a series that had a pair of two day breaks, but now goes back to back.  How any of that makes sense is beyond me.  Anyways, I'm saying Boston wins this one. 

And if all that wasn't enough, the NFL Draft starts tonight, with the added bonus of the ever exciting labor deal speculation.  Yawn.

After last night's loss, the Boston Red Sox are now 5-1 on the year against the Baltimore Orioles.  Wonder if Buck Showalter wants that comment back a few weeks ago where he spoke of how he loves kicking the Beantowners asses?

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has a new book coming out in which he looks forward to celebrating championships with Jets fans, and takes a run at a few players, including former Jets.  His best run comes at Tom Brady, and this is truly a compliment:  "I really don't know Tom Brady, but who wouldn't hate him? Look at his life. Actually, look at his wife. Every man in America hates Tom Brady, and he should be proud of that."

Toronto FC visits Edmonton FC tonight in Canadian Championship play.  I'm expecting to see a streaking Bukakke on my TV sometime between 7:30 and 9:30 on SportsNet Ontario or West.  The East and Pacific versions are carrying Montreal at Vancouver at the same time.

This may well be the most epic of Epic Meal Time's ever.  Wow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thornton slays the Kings

Champions League semi-final play starts today with Manchester United in Germany for a date with surprising semi-finalist Schalke.  That starts a season-defining four game run for Man U in which they'll face Schalke, Arsenal, followed by the return leg with Schalke, and then Chelsea in league play.  "Big" doesn't begin to describe it.  I'm wagering on a United win today as they've tended to be real strong roadies throughout the competition, rested some key players in Saturday's win over Everton, and well, because Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is on freaking fire of late.

The famed Billy Ripken "fuck face" card has inspired an awesome t-shirt.  Look closely at the bottom of the bat on each.

So can we finally put that "Joe Thornton can't do it in the playoffs" thing to rest, finally?  Thornton scored the overtime winner for the San Jose Sharks last night that knocked the LA Kings out of the playoffs last night.  The night's bigger surprise for me was a very passive Pittsburgh Penguins squad not pressing the Tampa Bay Bolts, and it cost them in a 4-2 loss that sends that series to a seventh game tomorrow night in Steeltown.

A trio of juicy NHL match-ups tonight, including a pair of Game 7's.  Check the sched here.  I've got Montreal, Philly and Vancouver winning tonight.  Gotta take home cooking in the latter two for Game 7, even though home ice has proved largely meaningless this playoff season to date.  And no, Habs Fan, not working a reverse jinx there, just can't see Montreal losing three straight at home to anybody really.

Q: who's up after Derek Jeter? A: the other team. 

Through the first 300 games, MLB is at lowest rates for runs, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and walks, and the highest strikeouts in the last two decades.  The reasons likely include everything from cold weather to drug testing, but one GM offers an interesting take: “The number of players off to bad starts is mind-boggling. It’s such a timing sport. We’re overprotective of players in the spring. They don’t get enough at-bats. It’s exacerbated in Florida by the travel. Teams don’t ask veteran players to travel, so they end up playing every other day rather than straight through.”  Might be something to that, what with seven of the top 10 lowest-scoring teams being based in Florida in the spring. The same number of clubs train in each state.

A video posted by EA Sports promoting Madden 12 included just a snippet that showed what looks to be the one of the Buffalo Bills new uniforms.  Of course, it has since been pulled down, but not before we ran down a screen grab here, below our fav sports card of all time.

Just yesterday, happened upon a TV ad for Skechers hideous "Shape Ups" shoe, and a print ad for Breitling watches, starring the recently reclusive Wayne Gretzky. Janet have a tough go in Vegas, Great One?

When will teams start playing the shift on Derek Jeter?  You know, the 6 infielders, one outfielder one?

With the NFL's schedule out for a week now, it didn't take long for the analysis to start.  Here's a look from easiest to toughest sched. 

Seems all the hand-wringing and tears in Sacramento last week at the imminent departure of the NBA Kings was a bit premature.  Looks like the Kings will remain in NoCal for at least next season, assuming there is one of course.

Dancing with the Stars Karina Smirnoff in Playboy, aka the future Mrs. Brad Penny, of the Detroit Tigers.  Nice work, BP! NSFW, if you were wondering.  And while we're at it, a little Brooklyn Decker, aka Mrs. Andy Roddick.

Get ready for a whole lot of UFC coverage in this section of planet Earth with UFC 129 in Toronto on Saturday with 55,000 in attendance.  I'd much, much rather read about that than the ridiculously overdone coverage of the Royal Wedding.  Happened upon posters for sale of William and Kate at the local grocery store.  Who the hell would buy a poster of them and hang that on their wall?  Seriously.  I'd rather have a collection of cauliflowered ears any day, and that's no knock on Kate, but on the monarchy that is still shockingly a concern to people in Canada.  Hell, there are even stories in the Toronto Star where people are describing what they are wearing to the wedding - not the couple - but the author?  Who.  Freaking.  Cares.  Question mark.

18 annoying Facebook types.  So very freaking good.

A couple vids to close the day out - enjoy.

Not sure how this video of Nashville Pred Mike Fisher fighting the Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry escaped me, with a nice reaction from Fisher's wife Carrie Underwood.  What's with all the WAG's today?

There is over-rotating on a flip, and then there is this, courtesy of backyard wrestling.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Only the Canucks

Really, does taking a run at LeBron James for his failings in the clutch ever get old?  Faced with a chance to put way the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday, LBJ came up small.  Again.

And speaking of small, then there are the Vancouver Canucks, who find new and impressive ways every year to choke the life out of their season.  If it isn't goalies letting in floaters from centre ice - looking at you, Dan Cloutier - or routine playoff disappointment, how about squandering a 3-0 series lead on the Chicago Blackhawks and turning it into a game 7, where they're not sure who plays goal?  Only the Canucks, and I'm pretty sure I mean that literally.

In other NHL play, the Nashville Predators finally won their first playoff series in franchise history yesterday when they knocked off the Anaheim Ducks.  If you missed Bobby Ryan's spectacular goal on Friday night, it is at the bottom today.  Philadelphia and Buffalo will play a game 7 tomorrow, as will the 'nucks/Hawks. They'll be joined by Boston at Montreal for their Game 6, with the Habs needing a win to stay alive after dropping the last three. Pittsburgh is on the road tonight trying to close out Tampa Bay, who crushed them on Saturday, and L.A. is at home trying to stay alive against the San Jose Sharks in their Game 6.

I thought it was in bad form for Joe Torre to be involved in a book that dished some dirt on teams he used to work with while he was still in the game, so it is in really bad form for New York Yankees fading captain Derek Jeter to be involved in a book that takes cracks at GM Brian Cashman and Alex Rodriguez. Those look like they'll be Jeter's hardest hits of the season.

Nice of the Toronto Raptors to be working so hard to fix their image as a joke of a franchise, leaving their GM twisting in the wind with his contract set to expire and a very, very important draft to get right.  I'm sure the rest of the league will look very favorably on that circus if they can do Bryan Colangelo like that.

Count soon-to-be-free-agent Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes among those not exactly thrilled with the thought of working in Winnipeg in the future.  Always thought the expression was "beggars can't be choosers" - silly me.

It might not be their year yet, again, but a Buffalo Bills veal chop sounds pretty good

Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista is looking like a star, but if he doesn't get somebody who can get on in front of him or protect him in the cleanup spot, he's going to have the closest to 1:1 ratio of homers to RBI in the history of baseball I suspect.

Warning: not for the weak stomached.  A horrible, horrible tackle in the Colorado-Seattle MLS tilt this weekend, with a worse result.  Won't even embed it here so nobody views it by accident.

It is getting close to a week out, but if you've not seen Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos drop the Copa Del Rey in a victory parade last week, only to see it get run over by the bus he was riding on, take a moment.  Word is Arsenal is interested in Ramos now, what with their love of guys who can let trophies slip through their fingers.

Bobby Ryan's wonder goal on Friday night...